It was a busy first week for the Las Vegas Raiders as veterans reported to training camp, cornerback Marcus Peters signed with the team and a few other players were placed on injured lists. The Raiders also held their first full practice of the season where quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Davante Adams were finally able to get some work in together.
As expected, training camp is the focus of this week’s mailbag as your questions and my answers are below!
Q: How much does the addition of Marcus Peters actually help the Raiders' defense? Is it capable of being middle of the pack or nah?
A: Earlier this week, I dove a little deeper into what Peters can bring to the Silver and Black in a film room column and on a recent episode of Tape Don’t Lie, so take a peek at those for a more detailed breakdown.
At a high level, I definitely think Peters will give the Raiders’ defense a boost. I’ve mentioned several times how they needed a ballhawk in the secondary and very few are better at that than the two-time All-Pro who has 32 career interceptions.
He also has 11 career forced fumbles, so he should be able to create more turnovers for a unit that was one of the worst at getting their hands on the ball last year. Also, his experience shows up on tape as he’s become a heady veteran in zone coverage, which should help a rather young position group.
However, the nine-year pro doesn’t quite have the man coverage skills he used to have—part of that is due to tearing an ACL in 2021—and the rest of the defense is still a work in progress. Las Vegas still needs someone other than Maxx Crosby to get pressure, their linebacker corps is still rough and the safeties are still a bit of a question mark.
So, I hesitate to say they’ll be in the middle of the pack this year, but I do think Peters gives them a much-needed boost and can be a player they can keep around for a couple of years while guys like Nate Hobbs and Jakorian Bennett continue to grow and develop.
A: To be honest, defensive tackle is one of my early concerns so far in training camp. Rookie Byron Young and second-year pro Neil Farrell Jr. starting practice on injured lists was a rough way for the Raiders to begin training camp. It’s a position group where they need a young player to step up and take command, and being sidelined also hurts their individual development.
Farrell Jr.’s injury is especially concerning to me because shortly after announcing his status, the team re-signed Kyle Peko. Maybe they just need an extra body for the first couple of weeks of camp with two defensive tackles out, but it’s not exactly a comforting signal that they’re expecting Farrell Jr. to be back on the field quickly.
Young was my pick to be the sleeper of the crew, so hopefully he recovers quickly. Also, I could see seventh-round pick Nesta Jade Silvera taking advantage of the extra reps and making some noise in the preseason.
A: I don’t have any information other than what’s been reported, but it sounds like Renfrow will be staying in Las Vegas, for now. The Athletic’s Tashan Reed wrote that a ‘league source’ told him the Raiders haven't received any trade offers for the wideout, and head coach Josh McDaniels said he’s “super excited” to work with Renfrow.
So, I think the Pro Bowler is safe until at least the regular season trade deadline. If the season isn’t going well for the Raiders and a contending team needs a slot receiver, that’s when conversations could pick back up as the Raiders would save nearly $12 million of 2024 cap space by dealing him, per Over The Cap.
A: Jimmy Garoppolo is cleared and will be a “full-go” during practice, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore. However, Tyree Wilson is a different story as he’s sidelined to begin camp after landing on the Non-Football Injury list. McDaniels did say that Wilson is headed in the right direction and was expected to miss some practice time, but, obviously, this isn’t a good start to his career. It sounds like he’ll be ready for Week 1, it’s just a matter of how many practices he’ll miss between now and then.
Q: What has Mark Davis done toward the commitment to excellence? Building a new stadium or making up a name for this stadium doesn’t move the needle. Hiring coaches from the Patriots doesn’t move the needle because they are has-beens similar to the Cowboys, Packers, Broncos, Steelers, Niners, Giants and Raiders.
A: Obviously, McDaniels needs to have more success to justify Davis’ belief in him. That’s not debatable and last season certainly made the owner look bad, and I think fans should certainly hold him accountable.
While he did inherit a mess, the Raiders have hired more head coaches (five, not including interims) than they have playoff appearances (two) since Davis took over, so I understand the frustration.
The problem is he’s not selling the team anytime soon especially since the organization has done well on the business side since moving to Las Vegas. Forbes reported last year that the Raiders are worth $5.1 billion and are the ninth-most valuable franchise in the NFL.
Judging by the framing of the question, I’m sure you already have the answer you’re looking for and don’t care about the business, which I understand and that’s perfectly fine! You’re entitled to feel the way you do and I’m not far behind you as I do think Davis needs to be held to a higher standard.
However, I do have to point out that seven of the eight “has been” teams you mentioned have made the playoffs in the last two years...
A: For people who say the Raiders only won six games despite Jacobs’ career year, I’d point to the fact that they set an NFL record for blowing double-digit second-half leads. So I’d put more blame on the defense and coaching staff than the running back as Jacobs and the offense put the team in a position to win games, they just choked them away.
I also think people are getting a little narrow-minded when talking about Jacobs recently and focusing on what he did last season and not looking at the entire picture of his career. He’s had over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and at least seven touchdowns all four years with the Raiders and that type of production is going to be hard to replace.
As far as how big of a step backward the offense takes without him, it’s going to depend on how much Zamir White and/or Brittain Brown grow. White struggled last season, even in the preseason, and Brown didn’t see the field offensively, so Las Vegas would be asking those two to take giant leaps this year if Jacobs isn’t in the lineup.
With the rushing champ in the backfield, teams can’t get away with playing those two-high coverages that have given even the NFL’s best passing attacks trouble in recent years because he can take advantage of light boxes. In other words, JJ’s absence could impact the Raiders’ passing game as well because he’s not just another run-of-the-mill rusher.
A: First, thank you, and thank you for reading! I really appreciate all of the support you guys have given me over these last two, going on three seasons! I love talking/writing about my favorite team and you guys make that possible for me.
Unfortunately, I don’t attend training camp as I live in the Sacramento area and that commute would be a bit much every day. I’m hoping to make it out for a few days of camp but not sure that will work this summer with everything I have going on.
My biggest training camp concern as a fan is the health of their young guys on the defensive line. Wilson, Young and Farrell Jr. not being able to practice early on can hinder their development and thus, impact the future/progression of the team’s defense as a whole.
To me, those guys need to develop into starters in the next year or two to put a competitive defense together in Las Vegas, which means getting as many reps now as possible.
A: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think so. During the Jacobs saga last month, Vic Tafur of The Athletic wrote that Davis and Ziegler have both said they won’t judge this year on wins and losses but rather on the development of young players. So, it sounds like McZiegs will get at least one more season after this one.
That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, email them to SBPQuestions1@gmail.com or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will publish on Thursdays throughout the season.